Public Lands

Top 10 Worst Environmental Decisions in California’s History

Ranking the lost landscapes and environmental features

California has a paradoxical history with its environment. On one hand, the state boasts incredible natural beauty, along with a government that is an internationally recognized leader for strong environmental policies. But the state’s residents have also caused severe environmental destruction, particularly in the late nineteenth century — some of which helped spur the mobilization …

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Coastal Beaches, Public Access & the Pandemic

Important Legal & Policy Considerations in Closing Beaches to Protect Public Health

As part of America’s steadily growing restiveness over state and local shelter-in-place directives, the issue of government-mandated public beach closures has recently emerged as a particularly contentious issue.  It’s especially prominent now, given that many coastal states are experiencing their first heat waves of 2020. Many Americans are increasingly weary of and angry over public …

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Public Lands Watch: Revisions to NEPA regulations

Trump Administration proposes drastic revisions to regulations that implement bedrock environmental law

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is one of the most important statutes for public lands management in the United States, even though it actually is not specific to public lands. NEPA requires federal agencies to analyze and publicly disclose the significant environmental impacts of proposed agency actions, consider alternatives to those proposals, and seek …

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From the Grand Canyon to Contaminated Cantaloupes – and More

Five books with fresh perspectives on environmental issues.

Law reviews make little effort to track new books, unlike other journals in other disciplines . So it’s pretty much hit-or-miss whether you learn about relevant new books.  I wanted to share some interesting finds that have crossed my desk, joined a growing pile of unread books, and then slowly left the pile. The subjects …

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Misunderstanding the Law of Causation

Trump’s NEPA proposal flunks Torts as well as Environmental Science 101.

Last week’s NEPA proposal bars agencies from considering many of the harms their actions will produce, such as climate change. These restrictions profoundly misunderstand the nature of environmental problems and are based on the flimsiest of legal foundations. Specifically, the proposal tells agencies they do not need to consider environmental “effects if they are remote …

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Bright Spots of 2019 (Yes, there were some!)

A bad year in many ways, but with promising signs for the future.

It’s been a tumultuous and often grim year in terms of environmental protection. The Trump Administration continued its onslaught against environmental protection, completing major regulatory rollbacks. Nevertheless, there were some rays of sun through the darkening clouds. State Initiatives.  Progress as the state level continued, as it has throughout the Trump Administration.  New York State …

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2020 in the Courts: A Preview

Some major new cases will be filed; older ones will result in major decisions.

There are going to be some significant environmental cases over the next year. In addition, some important new cases will be filed now or in the near future, which may have produced some interesting rulings. It will probably take more than a year, however, for some of the big new cases down the turnpike to …

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LA Metro’s Transit to Parks Strategic Plan

A beneficial but incomplete solution to address lack of access to open spaces for disadvantaged communities

I previously wrote about the potential to generate greater support for environmental initiatives, by improving community engagement with the natural environment. One mechanism to improve community engagement in this manner is quite simple: make it easier for people to access parks and open spaces by public transit. Access is a widespread issue in Los Angeles, …

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The Pro-Environmental Lochner Court

How a conservative Court defended environmental protection a century ago.

Like today’s Court, the Supreme Court a century ago was dominated by conservatives. The Lochner era, from around 1900 to 1935, was named after the most notorious case of that period. The Lochner case, which struck down a maximum hours law for workers, epitomized the conservative Supreme Court of that era.  Yet that conservative Court …

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Warren’s public lands policy proposal

The Senator’s policy proposals have a lot of good points, but could be even better

Senator Elizabeth Warren has become famous for her policy plan documents as she runs for President. A few months ago, she released a new one focusing on public lands. The key points in her plan include: A moratorium on all new fossil fuel leasing on federal public lands Providing 10% of US renewable energy from …

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